People Profile

Advocating for Patient Care & Physical Therapy

Like all physical therapists, Corey Kuipers loves to help others. He cares deeply for our profession and wants to ensure a bright future for his patients. One of the best ways he’s found to achieve this is through advocacy – by ensuring the voices of his patients are heard on Capitol Hill.

Corey is a physical therapist in our Coopersville clinic. He has a contagious passion for raising awareness about the role of physical therapy, the value physical therapy brings to health care, and the quality of care that patients receive. In 2017 he went to Washington, D.C and Lansing, MI., to advocate on behalf of our profession and the patients we serve. We sat down with Corey to talk about his experience, and how he initially became interested in the advocacy portion of our profession.

Physical therapy grand rapidsCorey (second from left) is pictured on Capitol Hill

Why were you initially drawn to the advocacy side of physical therapy?
I grew up in politics. My dad served as both a State Representative and State Senator in Michigan so I learned from a young age that if you want something, you have to advocate for it and speak with those who can elicit these changes. Serving in a liaison role for Northern Physical Therapy has been a great opportunity to collaborate with policy makers in multiple efforts to advocate for policy changes that seek to address both the immediate and long-term needs of our profession. These issues include payment reform, innovative healthcare delivery, improved access to care for patients and consumers, advancement in quality initiatives, and demonstration of the benefits of physical therapy.

Corey, who is pictured here with members of the APTA, is also is a member of the MPTA Legislative committee

What brought you to Capitol Hill to advocate on our behalf?
Physical therapy often gets overlooked, or even forgotten about, by the federal and local branches of government. This is, in large part, due to the fact that they don’t know the services we provide. In order for our profession to thrive and allow patients easy access to PT, we all need to advocate policy makers, consumers and payers on the value and integrity of physical therapy. We need to be a voice to our patients and our communities. With the ongoing opioid epidemic, this is our time to advocate for safe alternatives to pain relief.

Grand Rapids Physical TherapyCorey (far right) was one of five from the state of Michigan that attended the Federal Forum in Washington, D.C.. He visited the offices of two United States Senators and 14 United States Representatives. They discussed issues surrounding the Repeal of the Medicare Therapy cap for outpatient services, Sports Medicine Licensure clarity act, and the SAFE PLAY act and youth concussions.

 

What advice do you have for those who may want to advocate to their legislators but don’t know where to start?
When people hear about advocacy, especially when it comes to advocating to those in the government, they tend to shy away for fear that they lack knowledge on certain issues, or fear of being looked down upon. The reality is, legislators are human, and are seeking to learn more about issues that are important to you, their constituents. When it comes down to it, they need you to be happy. They are going to listen to what you have to say because they want your support. At the end of the day, legislators are people, just like you and me.

Grand Rapids physical therapistCorey (left) is pictured with members of the APTA

How would you like to expand on advocating in the future?
I would like to continue to stay involved with the MPTA and attend advocacy events such as state advocacy day in Lansing, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfasts, and the Federal Advocacy Forum. I believe it’s important to develop a rapport with these legislators and the more they trust you the more likely they are to support your cause. I’m happy to advocate for my profession and would like to encourage fellow physical therapists and other healthcare professionals to become involved in advocating for our patients as well.

West Michigan Legislative Luncheon
In addition to the wonderful work that Corey is doing, Northern Physical Therapy is the premier sponsor for the annual Legislative Luncheon, which is hosted by the Coopersville Chamber of Commerce. This year’s luncheon will take place on Monday, June 19, 2018.

 

 

Northern Physical Therapy is a Grand Rapids Physical Therapy based clinic with locations in Muskegon, Wayland, Lowell, and the surrounding areas. Our goal is to help clients feel great whether they’re suffering from back pain or a sports injury. We offer free consultations at each of our clinics. You don’t have to live with pain!

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Janis Kemper’s Weight Loss Follow Up, 2 Years Later

Janis in 2010, and in 2015

Two years ago we featured the story of Janis Kemper, our co-owner and physical therapist here at Northern. For many personal reasons Janis began a weight loss journey that left her 80 pounds lighter and feeling better than ever. No one knows better than Janis that weight loss is hard. The post we did two years ago remains one of our top visited pages every month so we wanted to do a follow-up with Janis to share the joys and struggles she’s had in maintaining her weight.

November 7, 2011 was the day my life changed. I vowed to say goodbye to bad habits, goodbye to overindulgence, and goodbye to part of myself. While none of it has been easy, it has been worth it, and for the most part I feel I’ve done a pretty good job in making and following through with certain lifestyle changes. I’ve continued to exercise six days a week and I make sure this gets done by scheduling my workouts into my calendar because as everyone knows, if it’s not in the calendar it’s not getting done! It is very rare for me to cancel or change an appointment with someone else, so I treat my exercise as an appointment with myself. Sure, life happens and sometimes my daily schedule gets messed up so in order to keep excuses at bay I keep a change of clothes and my bathing suit in my car so if there is a change of plans I can accommodate accordingly and still make it to the gym or pool.

So has it been easy?
The answer to that one’s easy…absolutely not! So often I get tired of journaling my food, preparing healthy meals, and reading labels. You’d think after all this time it would be second nature, and sometimes it is, but I still tire of it. Then I think, “I’m sure a person with MS or Diabetes gets tired of doing the things they need to do in order to control their disease,” and that helps me to realize that even though it does suck that I have to focus and work at keeping at a healthy weight, it really isn’t much different than the millions who have to manage their chronic diseases as well. *In 2013, the AMA recognized obesity as a disease.

In many ways 2015 was a really rough year for me. In a span of just a few months I had several stressful life events occur. My husband and I became empty nesters, our parents had medical issues that required a lot of our time, two of our beloved dogs died, etc…you get the idea. The way I chose to cope with this stress was with food. I resorted to some of my old bad habits and in the moment, the food did soothe me, as it always had. But then the vicious cycle began – guilt, shame, etc. I’m sure it feels the same as if a smoker gave up cigarettes and then caved and began smoking again. I was left feeling very out of control. I knew deep down I didn’t want to regain weight, but I was in denial for a while and chose to not weigh myself. When I finally got the courage to step on the scale I found that I had gained 25 pounds. This was weight that I had kept off for the past 2+ years! To say I felt devastated would be an understatement. I knew I had to get back to square one or all my hard work would have been for nothing.

Janis’ business partner, Gina Otterbein, has supported and cheered for Janis along the way

Staying on track when it’s easier not to
I started out by writing down all the reasons I want to maintain a healthy weight. I got back to my support group. Then I decided to journal my food (which is the number one tool to successfully keep a healthy weight). As a result I cut my calories and have learned that because I want to cope with life’s stresses in healthy ways, food is not the best option for me. I’m sure I will occasionally turn to food in times of good and bad, but I don’t like the feeling of being out of control with my eating, so if I slip up one day, the next day I’m going to get back on track.

I also recently began putting time in my calendar for meal preparation, grocery shopping (while reading labels), and food journaling. These are tools that work for me – but they only work if I use them. Weight loss is a very personal struggle. The message I hope others get from my story is that it’s important to remember not to compare yourself to others. Just because someone else is thinner than I am, doesn’t mean they had an easier road. Everyone is coping with their own struggles. It can also be incredibly intimidating to go to a gym or fitness center when you’re overweight. But you have to remember that no matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.

Our Wayland team adores Janis and are thrilled for all she’s accomplished


Educating Others

Looking back on my successes and setbacks over the last two years I can see that part of the reason I was called to change my life was so that I could educate and share my experiences with others. When I first started to lose weight I used to dread going to the gym. Fast forward to today and I’m now in the position where I can, and have, led a few fitness classes here at Northern. It’s an exhilarating feeling, knowing where I started. I also never waste an opportunity to work with patients on the physical therapy side who struggle with weight themselves. Oftentimes they find exercise to be painful but what I want them to know is that there is an appropriate and pain free way to work out, no matter your weight, and a physical therapist can show you how. The more people I can share that message with, the better. Through learning the appropriate way to exercise, learning what’s right for your body, overcoming pain and injury, and potentially working with our personal trainers, anyone can be on the road to a healthier lifestyle.


The next chapter

I’ve come to the conclusion that my weight is something that will be in the back of my mind for the rest of my life, but it doesn’t have to control me. I’ve set myself up with the tools that work best for me and I understand the rewards that come with using them. I encourage everyone who is struggling to take the first step, literally. It’s a long road, but the destination is wonderful.

Learn More
Janis will be a featured guest on WZZM’s My West Michigan with Catherine Behrendt on March 21. Tune in at 9am.
Janis will also be the guest speaker at the next Weight Loss Support Group at our Grant clinic on March 29.

A Personal Journey for Janis Kemper :: Weight Loss Success

Update – We checked back in with Janis two years later to see how she was doing with her weight loss. Read that story here.

Weight loss isn’t easy; it’s hard work. No one knows this better than Janis Kemper, physical therapist and co-owner of NPT, who recently lost eighty pounds! We asked Janis some questions about what motivated her to take the proper steps to lose the weight and what she would recommend to others wishing to do the same.

What initially made you decide to change your lifestyle?
My health was declining. I had high blood pressure (requiring two medications to control), borderline Type II Diabetes, Fatty Liver Disease, and Sleep Apnea. My husband and kids told me they were worried about my health and I decided that I wanted to see my future grandchildren grow up. Making the decision was the toughest part!

What did you do to lose the weight?
I talked to my doctor who agreed that I needed to change my lifestyle. He recommended that I see a physician who specializes in Weight Loss Management. There are many tools available to people wanting to lose weight. My doctor and I decided I should try the VLCD (very low calorie diet). Essentially, for five months I ate between 800-900 calories per day. This was done with “product food” to ensure the proper balance between protein, carbs, and fat. To be on a diet with so few calories required weekly physician visits and bi-weekly blood work. The other components of the program are exercise (60 minutes per day at least five days per week) and weekly attendance to a support group. The support group was educational and led by nutritionists, behaviorists, and exercise physiologists. After the five month period there was a five-week transition back to regular food and a calorie intake of about 1200 calories per day.

How much weight have you lost?
I’m so proud of my success! I was able to lose and keep off 80 lbs. I was a size 18/20 and now I am a size 10.

What was the hardest part of your journey?
I always thought, “If I could just lose the weight, then I will be good.” Well that isn’t true. I have come to realize that maintaining my weight and changing my lifestyle has proven my biggest challenge. I have accepted the fact that I use food as a coping mechanism. Similar to an alcoholic, a drug user, a gambler, etc., I use food. When I’m happy I like to celebrate with food and drink, when I’m stressed I use chocolate to cope, the list goes on and on. I have the disease of obesity but right now I am managing it well.

What kept you motivated throughout the process?
There were days that I would have a pity party for myself. I would ask, “Why do I have to spend two hours a day to maintain my weight and be healthy?” and “Why do I have to think about every morsel I put in my mouth?” Then I realized how fortunate I was to be able to exercise, and eat healthily. I chose to focus on the positives of the weight loss like being able to wear regular size clothing and not plus-sized, being active without getting out of breath, and not having to take any obesity related medications (my blood pressure is now normal, I no longer have a fatty liver, I no longer have sleep apnea, and I have normal blood sugar levels). I think that there are many things that keep me going including a very supportive husband who motivates me, attending support group regularly, and awesome co-workers who challenge me to stay fit!

What advice would you give to others who may be thinking about changing their lifestyle?
Make the decision and then do it. Don’t attempt to do it alone, get help. The program I went through was Grand Health Partners. It was so motivating, that we decided to launch a personal fitness training program at Northern. We have certified and licensed Athletic Trainers who are equipped to work one on one with people who want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. The program will launch this month! Contact one of our clinics to get more information.

What would you say to those who are in the process of losing weight, but are struggling with reaching their goal?
Find support! Challenge yourself with a new workout video, class or routine. Try keeping a food journal and see if extra calories might be sneaking in. Eat protein at every meal, and eat six small meals a day. Use a smaller dinner plate. Weigh and measure your food – it’s surprising how 4 ounces creeps up to 6 ounces! Educate yourself on how to cook healthy. NPT is hosting a healthy cooking seminar at our Wayland location on January 16th from 6:00-7:00pm. It’s free and you can register at www.northernpts.com/rsvp.

For the first time in decades, obesity rates in America are on the decline. Recent government data showed that obesity among U.S. adults is continuing to level off after several decades of skyrocketing growth. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but it’s likely due to awareness and better information. Although this is good news, 34.9% of Americans in 2012 were still obese. Medical professionals all agree: sustaining a healthier weight is critical to improving blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipid control levels as well as gaining better mobility and improved moods. I’m living proof that you can lose weight and achieve a healthier lifestyle. More and more people are making the choice to not allow the disease of obesity to control their health and happiness, and with the right tools you can be one of them!